BMW – at the 2018 Beijing Motor Show – unveiled the concept of its first mass-produced electric vehicle – the BMW iX3 Concept. The car was first teased only recently, and marks the next important step in BMW’s grand electrification strategy.
The BMW iX3 Concept is an all-electric X3 SUV. The car would hit the road sometime in 2020, and will be manufactured at the company’s Shenyang plant in China (a joint venture in cooperation with Brilliance Automotive). Considering it’s just a concept for now, the company is not detailing much about it. Still, it is known that it would have around a 70kWh battery, which can be charged in just half an hour at a 150kW fast-charge station.
The BMW iX3 Concept features the latest fifth-generation eDrive electric technology. The technology helps in more powerful and denser batteries, thus saving on weight. Also, eDrive electric technology fits the electric motor, transmission and power electronics in a single electric drive unit, thus resulting in compact packaging.
“This fresh package of technology brings considerable advances in terms of performance characteristics, operating range, weight, packaging space and flexibility – and will be making its debut in the purely electrically-driven SAV,” the company says in a press release.
Further, the company claims that the new tech helps it to significantly lower the production costs compared to the current units. Also, its new electric motor can be manufactured without using any rare earth metals. The components for the fifth-generation powertrain are coming from production facilities in the U.S., China and Germany.
According to BMW, the concept car sports a 268 hp (200 kW) electric motor. And, when fully charged, it can go more than 400 km based on the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).
“The BMW Concept iX3 previews the fusion of the multi-faceted driving pleasure for which BMW X models are renowned and a locally emission-free drive system,” the automaker says.
Talking of the looks, BMW hasn’t tried to differentiate it much from the basis X3 variants. The biggest change is certainly the standard kidney grille, which has been replaced with the linked unit inspired from the iVision Dynamics Concept. Also, the BMW iX3 Concept can be seen with several blue highlights and a charging point, which is fitted behind the left side front wheel arch.
Further, the car has a new rear bumper and fresh side skirts. However, it still has the X3’s standard taillights. In place of the conventional exhaust outlets, there is a diffuser element featuring the blue highlights. Other than these, there is not much else to differentiate the electric version from the internal-combustion variants.
According to BMW, such levels of tweaks can be expected in its future electrified models as well. With minor yet visible design tweaks, BMW aims to change the look just enough to easily differentiate between the electric variant and conventionally powered cars.
“We don’t invent a completely new car with the design. We give it this cleanness. This boldness and a more modern design,” said Domagoj Dukec head of the design team for BMW i and M vehicles, according to Engadget.
The BMW iX3 is an important part of BMW’s electric car journey. Unlike the i3 and i8, the iX3 is a fully-fledged i model. Since, BMW has trademarked all the names from iX1 through iX9, it can be assumed that the company has plans to come up with many more electric variants going forward. Also, the automaker claims that it has flexible new platforms allowing it to fit all-electric powertrains into any new series model.
And, going forward, the company plans to have one platform for each car that supports gas, hybrid and pure EV drivetrains. Such an arrangement will help the automaker to quickly adjust the production based on the demand.
The BMW iX3 Concept arrives at a time when other premium automakers are planning to come up with electric variants to take on Tesla. Jaguar with the new I-Pace has already entered the market, while Audi will come up with an electric car – e-tron, sometime later this year. Mercedes will also enter the segment in 2019 with its all-electric SUV called EQC. Mercedes is aiming to offer a 500km range with the EQC, but it is not known if it is based on a New European Drive Cycle figure or WLTP.